9 Uplifting Stories From People Who’ve Won Their Fight for the Environment

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Every day, there are more and more environmental problems in the world: forests in Brazil are burning, glaciers in Antarctica are melting, and the oceans are filling with plastic. But there are people who aren’t able to bear these things and who are trying to help the planet. People are building factories that suck carbon dioxide from the air and are helping to invent new ways of getting clean energy. And all of us can join these people, even if it’s with something as simple as sorting through the trash or cleaning our own yards.

We at Bright Side really want to hear some good environmental news, so we’ve collected some inspirational examples of major planet wins. And at the end of the article, there’s a bonus for you: a story about the unexpected good that can come from bad mayonnaise.

1. McDonald’s trucks work on used deep fryer oil from the restaurants.

Since 2007, McDonald’s has been producing biofuel by exploiting the used oil from their kitchens. After the oil is collected from the restaurants, it’s cleaned and sent to special recycling facilities. Later, the fuel is used by cars for the company. Several European logistics companies use it for their transportation.

2. In Tokyo, islands made of trash have been built.

Most of the trash in Japan is burned and the exhaust is thoroughly cleaned before dumping it into the atmosphere. The ash from the burned trash is then used to produce concrete and asphalt. The trash that doesn’t burn is split into small pieces and placed in very thick layers, making islands in the middle of the Tokyo Bay. Odaiba Island already has prestigious businesses and rest districts.

3. In Portland, some of the regular water pipes were replaced by pipes with turbines that produce electricity.

The founders of the LucidEnergy startup from Portland, Oregon came up with a new method of receiving clean energy. They’ve placed spherical turbines into big-diameter water pipes. The turbines turn in the water and produce electricity from it that already flows under the city. The prediction is that in 20 years, these pipes will have produced $2 million worth of energy.

4. In 80% of bathrooms in Hong Kong, seawater is used to save fresh water.

In Hong Kong, there are not enough sources of fresh water which is why for the last 150 years, it has been supplied from a nearby province. In order to solve the problem, the Hong Kong authorities built a separate sewage system that uses only seawater. This saves them a lot of fresh water and the salted wastewater is believed to be less toxic for sea life.

5. In Indonesia, you can use trash to pay for your bus fare.

The inhabitants of Suroboyo, Indonesia can now pay for their bus fare with used plastic that they can bring to special recycling points at various bus stops. This makes the process of sorting trash easier and decreases the number of personal vehicles in the city streets.

6. In Switzerland, there’s a factory that “sucks” CO2 out of the air.

There is a factory that has special filters that aim to draw down 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. The gas is later used for growing vegetables, producing sodas, and so on.

7. Sweden is the biggest wood exporter but there are more and more trees growing there every year.

Forests take more than half of the country’s territory in Sweden and when one tree is chopped down, 3 new ones are planted. Despite the fact that there’s massive deforestation in the country for their own needs and for export, the number of forests in Sweden has doubled in the past 100 years and continues to increase.

8. Edible packaging

The plastic rings used to connect packs of 4 beer cans, soda cans, or water bottles is one of the biggest problems sea life faces today: they affect different species ranging from birds, to seals, to sea turtles. The E6PR startup has begun to make rings out of material that is 100% biodegradable.

9. After volunteers removed 11 million pounds of trash from the Versova beach in India, turtles returned there for the first time in 20 years to lay eggs.

Afroz Shah, a lawyer from Mumbai, managed to inspire thousands of local people to clean up Versova beach, which was buried under tons of trash. It took the volunteers (that consisted both of the people from the slums and the stars of Bollywood) 86 weeks to completely clean up the beach. Afroz Shah was given the title: “Champion of the Earth” by the UN. Soon after the cleanup, 80 sea turtles were seen in the area that hadn’t been there for more than 2 decades.

What have you done in order to save the planet?

Please note: This article was updated in August 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit cogainho / Reddit


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I know that Bill Gates invested a lot in such stations like in Zurich. Hope they will become wide spread in some years


Idea #5 should be used in other countries too. This will reduce plastic waste drastically


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